Anger at independent MPs on woodchips

Energy Matters0

Anger at independent MPs on woodchips

David Wroe

February 10, 2012


“A swindle…” Bob Brown says allowing the forestry industry to continue burning native woodschips as renewable energy will mislead the public. Photo: Peter Mathew

THE independent federal MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor have backed out of what the Greens say was a ”critical” part of the carbon tax deal, moving to allow the forestry industry to continue burning native woodchips as renewable energy.

In a manoeuvre that will infuriate conservationists, the two independents have moved to strike down regulations that were to tighten the definition of renewable energy to exclude electricity created from burning waste woodchips from native forests.

Since 1997, forestry firms have been able to earn renewable energy certificates, which can be sold for profit, by burning such woodchips in furnaces to create electricity.

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The Greens leader, Bob Brown, said the regulations were a critical part of the carbon tax package agreed to by the multi-party climate change committee, made up of Labor, the Greens, Mr Oakeshott – who moved the disallowance yesterday – and Mr Windsor – who seconded it.

The legislation was passed last year, but some details are still being dealt with in the form of regulations.

”Rob Oakeshott signed up to this agreement as we all did and … I hope we all end up honouring it,” Senator Brown said yesterday.

Conservationists say that defining native woodchip waste burning as renewable energy helps to boost the financial value of logging. Senator Brown said that it would be ”a swindle on the public who thought they were buying accredited sustainable energy”.

Neither Mr Oakeshott nor Mr Windsor could be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, said the government would ”continue to work with members of the Parliament to progress changes to the eligibility of wood waste under the Renewable Energy Target to help protect our native forests”.

The Coalition climate action spokesman, Greg Hunt, said: ”We would be very interested in talking with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor and we’ll look at their proposal. Our view has always been that the government proposal would both destroy renewable energy from waste through biomass and destroy blue collar jobs.”

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